Providing the Technology to Build Safe and Healthy Homes

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The Buckminster Fuller Challenge recognizes innovative strategies with the potential to solve humanity’s most pressing problems. Each year, a distinguished jury awards $100,000 to the winning strategy to support further development and implementation. In this series, we’re featuring the 21 semi-finalists currently under consideration for the 2011 award


The QuaDror Universal Joint has a unique geometry that lends itself to a wide range of applications. Created by four interlocking L-shaped pieces, the inherent strength of the QuaDror geometry can reduce the amount of material required in construction. The geometry applied to building structures has the potential to produce emergency shelters or infrastructure upgrades in existing slums that transport efficiently, are simple to assemble, and utilize some locally available materials. It is estimated that 1750 kits, or homes, can be shipped in one 40-foot container. Designer Dror Benshetrit has received several design awards including the GE Plastics Competition “Merging Boundaries” (2001), iF Product Design Award (2006), the Good Design Award (2008).

Open Source Ecology, founded by 2011 TED Fellow Marcin Jakubowski, is redesigning, building and distributing a set of 50 machines needed to create a community that produces all of its own food, energy, housing, and technology with minimal environmental impact. The set is designed to be inexpensive, durable, and able to make copies of itself using raw materials. All design and fabrication plans are freely available on their website for anyone to use or adapt. Eight of the 50 tools comprising the Global Village Construction Set have been prototyped and are being tested on their Factor e Farm; three are ready for market. The project won the MAKE Magazine Green Project Contest this year.

Recognizing that the death rate of women in childbirth is unnecessarily high in some countries, Maternova is working to provide access to information critical to improving maternal and neonatal health care. A state-of-the-art obstetric kit that will include innovative and essential obstetric tools (a mobile phone charger, a solar powered headlamp, a device to measure postpartum blood loss, a World Health Organization (WFP) color scale to detect anemia, and a reminder chard on the third stage of labor), and an efficient distribution model, are under development. Also in-progress is the development of cell-phone accessible, constantly updated online maps of health care facility networks that will enable health care providers and other users to quickly locate medical services and facilities. Currently, the group tracks health care innovations that may improve the odds of maternal/newborn survival and makes this information accessible on its website in a searchable database.

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.

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